Dublin has raised hopes of the UK and the EU agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal within the next two weeks as Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister said he believed an accord is now 'likely'.
Simon Coveney has suggested a deal between the two sides is now in sight but he warned it will not be easy to get it over the line.
Mr Coveney said formal negotiations had now entered a 'very serious zone' and he is 'under no illusion of the challenges' as they try to reach an agreement.
But he insisted the next 10 to 14 days is the 'realistic' timeline 'to complete this'.
The intervention came as talks remain ongoing as Brussels and Britain try to resolve a handful of crunch disputes which are still blocking a deal.
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU is now 'likely'
Mr Coveney's comments represent a boost to Boris Johnson after formal talks resumed last week following a tense standoff
The two sides remain deadlocked on the issue of post-Brexit fishing rights as well as on state aid and the governance of the deal.
Talks have been taking place in London this week between EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord Frost but they will switch to Brussels from tomorrow.
Optimism continues to grow that an agreement will be reached after talks resumed last week following a tense standoff.
Mr Coveney added to the optimism last night as he said: 'We're likely to get a deal but it won't be easy.'
Mr Coveney made the comments during a Irish Farmers' Journal webinar as he also warned the EU continues to prepare for a potential no trade deal split at the end of the transition period in December.
'There's no such thing as a no deal Brexit any more, what we're now fighting is a no trade deal Brexit which from an agricultural perspective would be hugely disruptive on many, many levels,' he said.
'We've got to be ready for January 1, there's going to be no more extensions of time, no more transition periods. Time is up at the end of the year.'
The Cork South-Central TD said there will be new trading arrangements on January 1 whether or not a trade deal is reached as he warned there is 'a lot at stake over the next 10 to 14 days'.
Michel Barnier, pictured leaving a London hotel this morning, and UK counterpart Lord Frost have been locked in talks this week before negotiations shift to Brussels from tomorrow
'If there's no trade deal it'll be on the basis of WTO [World Trade Organisation] standards,' he said.
'If there is a trade deal that will avoid tariffs and quotas but we will still unfortunately have a lot of disruption to trade.'
He warned it will take 'some getting used to' for many businesses and they need to prepare for January 1.
'This is a new reality, we wish it wasn't happening but it is,' he said. 'Businesses have 65 days to get their act together.'
Mr Coveney added: 'Can we get a deal? Yes we can. This is doable but difficult.'